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How To Tow A Trailer


You bought a pickup truck but you have never hitched anything to the back of it. Well, it’s time to change that. Today, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to tow a trailer.

Know your numbers

This is the first step in towing a trailer. Finding your specific towing numbers should ideally be done at the dealership when you purchase the truck. You can also lookup this information in the owner’s manual or online.

The numbers you should look for include your tow rating, your gross vehicle weight rating or GVWR, your gross combined weight rating or GCWR, gross axle rating and the vehicle curb weight.

Always make sure that you account for the actual weights being loaded into your truck. This is because the tow rating does not compensate for a full load of cargo and passengers.

To avoid exceeding your combined weight rating, sum up the gross trailer weight and gross vehicle weight. Again, be sure to include the weight of all passengers and cargo.

If the number you get is lesser than the GCWR, you’re good to go.

As for the GVWR, add together the gross vehicle weight and the tongue weight of the trailer, which is typically 9-15% of the gross trailer weight. If the sum is lesser than your GVWR, there is nothing to worry about.

Hitch up

Finding the proper hitch depends on the vehicle and the trailer. You need to know the size of your hitch receiver and the size of the ball you need for the trailer.

Once you know your hitch, purchase it at a local auto supply store or online. If you’re still unsure of the hitch size, you can also consider an adjustable hitch that allows you to change ball size and height.

Fit the hitch into the receiver and make sure to put in the kingpin to secure it in place.

Hook up

When it’s time to actually hook up, you should consider several things.

Have a second set of eyes spotting you from behind. While cameras are helpful, having a friend is a better option.

Back your vehicle into the trailer so the hitch ball sits directly underneath the ball housing. Once you’re done, you need to lower the trailer onto the truck.

As it goes down, watch to make sure everything is OK. The housing should sit right atop the ball. As you crank it down, the weight will be lifted off of the jack foot.

Close the hitch ball lock. Different trailers have different types of locks. If you place your hand underneath the actual collar, you will feel the collar on the trailer grabbing onto the hitch ball.

Secure the lock by fitting the quarter pin in it. This prevents accidental unlocking.

Once the trailer is locked on, you need to stow the jack foot. To do this, crank it all the way up. On some trailers, the foot is actually hinged, so it can be rotated for storing away.

Once the foot is all the way up, you need to connect the safety chains. Always cross the chains. Find which chain is connected to which side and connect it on the opposite side.

Should the trailer ever pop off, the chains create a cradle and catch the tongue of the trailer so it doesn’t drag on the road.

Next, hook up the lights. Most modern pickup trailers have 7 and 4 pin connectors. Fit the connector into the plug. There’s usually a groove on one side of the connector, so there is only one way it fits in. Double-check your lights when they’re hooked up.

When loading the trailer, keep the majority of the weight right over the axle. Drive the truck to check for neutral weight balance. The steering shouldn’t feel lighter than usual. The trailer shouldn’t want to sway all over the road either.

Do a circle check

Walk around the entire rig and check to make sure everything is working properly. If it looks good, you’re ready to go.

At Action Towing, we provide comprehensive towing recovery and roadside services within Edmonton and surrounding areas. Contact Action Towing at 780-340-0999 for instant help from experienced tow professionals.


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